Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 16 - Edinburgh to Carlisle

Time to say goodbye to our lovely house and to Karen and Blair. They do look suspiciously happy leaving us, don’t they??

Back on the road we (I) decided to continue with my Da Vinci Code quest. Rosslyn Chapel is only 7 miles from Edinburgh so that was our destination. We arrived at 10:30 (did I mention it was Sunday??) and were told that services were taking place and we could either attend the service or return after. I asked when the service would be over and he stated noon. I didn’t have any intention on sitting through a service for an hour and a half so back to the car we go.

Decision made to head somewhere else, grab lunch and maybe come back later in the day. Since the tour companies offer a day trip to the Scottish Borders, Rosslyn chapel and Melrose we decided to head to Melrose.

As we entered Melrose there was a buzz of activity taking place in the city centre. There were various races for the children and the bagpipe band were practicing.

Some of the pies are wild boar and venison game, beef steak ale and stilton.

We went to the King's Arms and both had a big breakfast with haggis and black pudding.

I had never heard of Melrose but I am certainly happy that we chose it. It is a magnificent ruin of an abbey with very lavish decorations.

No, I didn't climb the stairs to get these pictures, John did.

There has been a monastery at Melrose, or Mailros, since about 650AD. The first monastery was founded here by St Aidan of Lindisfarne and monks came from St Columba's monastery on Iona. This monastery was located in a loop in the River Tweed two miles to the east of today's Melrose, now known as Old Melrose.
I remember being on a tour of a graveyard in boston and having the skull and bones explained to me but don't remember the answer. Googled it and got various answers - Templars, stonemasons, and in the end you end up being skull and bones!

In 1322 Melrose Abbey and the town that had grown up around it were attacked by the English army of Edward II. Much of the abbey was destroyed and many monks were killed. The subsequent rebuilding was helped greatly by the generosity of Robert the Bruce. This link was later formally recognized when Robert's embalmed heart, encased in lead, was buried at Melrose Abbey.

In 1385 the Scots invaded northern England (see our Historical Timeline). This was not a wise move. Richard II of England defeated David II of Scotland and pushed the Scots back as far as Edinburgh, burning down Melrose Abbey as his army passed by.

I am now on a mission to read more about King Richard.

One of the oddest grotesques that I have ever seen is the pig playing the bagpipes. We searched and searched for this in vain until a French couple, obviously on the same mission, went to the gift shop and got detailed directions on its location. With the help of his finger pointing we located it and got our photos. In reading other travel blogs we were not alone in our hunt to track down this pig. I haven’t been able to track down the purpose or history of this pig so far.

It is now time to get back into the car for our drive to Carlise, our destination for tonight.

We arrived at the Ibis in Carlisle around 5 pm and headed out to wander. Again the location is excellent and we easily walked up to the main shopping area which was getting ready to close down for the day.

Popped into The Griffin pub which used to be a bank – a historic ornate sandstone building.

I was feeling tired (damned cold has been hanging on) so we went back to the hotel and I had a nap. For dinner we got Indian takeout and ate in our room.

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